Festival UK 2022 Chief Creative Officer Martin Green on launching a £3m R&D programme for an event that will showcase the UK’s creativity and innovation to the world.

Festival UK 2022 has announced today that applications are open for a unique and pioneering, £3m funded Research & Development opportunity. As of this morning, the search is on for the greatest minds and brightest talents drawn from the worlds of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to form Creative Teams capable of developing major public engagement projects to showcase the UK’s creativity and innovation on a global scale.

November 1949: planning the Festival of Britain

This investment comes at a time of particular need and marks the beginning of a process of development for inspirational projects that have mass appeal. As we look towards a near-future that will mark the UK’s transition into recovery, we look forward to a time when people will feel able to celebrate and take pride in themselves and the places they call home. The R&D opportunity is an investment in ideas and in their creation. We are asking potential collaborators to look beyond their own field or sector and connect with colleagues from different industries to discover new possibilities, to include and platform under-represented voices and to recognise, nurture and be inspired by emerging talents. This approach acknowledges that creativity exists in many forms and that by combining STEAM we aim to find jaw-dropping, world-beating, popular and breath-taking creative projects for everyone to enjoy in 2022.

Creativity is not the preserve of cultural institutions. It is at the heart of all STEAM sectors. By combining creative minds and practitioners from across STEAM, we will reach new heights of ambition and possibility. Technology will likely play a significant part in realising ideas that have the potential to reach millions of people, so cross-sector expertise will play a crucial role in making what we might think of as impossible, a reality.  Our creative industries, our imaginations, our arts, sciences and humanities are the best of us.  They bring us together, they create joy and hope and are a huge boost for the economy, also creating jobs.  The goal is that everyone in the UK, no matter where they are or what access they have, will be able to find at least one project that is meaningful, exciting and entertaining, to them.

Creativity is not the preserve of cultural institutions

By launching an open call, we hope that creatives across the STEAM sectors will grasp the scale of the opportunity here and respond positively to it. This is a not a conventional way to programme a multi-million-pound festival, we want the process to reflect our ambition, and the outcome to showcase the UK’s creativity and innovation to the world.

At the end of the application process 30 teams, each receiving £100,000, will be selected to participate in the R&D programme, to originate compelling, ambitious and extraordinary ideas for projects that have the potential to reach millions of people. Ideas are not a requirement of the application process but Creative Teams must be able to demonstrate they have the skills and collaborators needed to meet a set of criteria against which they will be assessed.

£120m of new investment has been allocated to the festival by the UK Government (including £22.8m to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland devolved administrations), which will ultimately allow for the commissioning of up to 10 major projects in the final public programme for 2022. The festival will also create opportunities for freelancers and individuals within sectors significantly impacted by COVID-19.

This is a future-facing project and therefore we need brilliant creative minds to contribute, to rise to the challenge. Let’s face it, people need something to look forward to, something open original and optimistic, something that gives them a sense of pride and community, something that brings us together. These are things that are arguably absent right now, the purpose of the final 10 projects in the programme, will be to bring them back.

Martin Green CBE, Chief Creative Officer, Festival UK 2022